EcoModo - The Best of Treehugger

This week at TreeHugger: Everybody loves kites, right? Even high-sea commercial cargo ships, especially with fuel savings of up to $2000/day. GE has figured out a way to print out OLEDs like paper. A mechanical dinosaur sat on a pile of coal in Germany, and Solaria figured out a way to make cheaper and more efficient solar panels using the very exotic material... plastic.

The Beluga Skysails is a cargo ship that was used to test a new system that uses kites to harness the power of the wind as auxiliary propulsion. It set sail (literally) to Venezuela from Germany on January 22nd and reached the Norway on March 13th after traveling a total of 11,952 nautical miles. "In even moderate winds, the first flights of an initial 160-square-meter towing kite was able to substitute for 20% of the engineís power." After the pilot phase, the towing kite will be replaced by one that is twice the size, providing twice as much energy and saving twice the fuel (which could mean $2000/day).

"Researchers have long dreamed of making OLEDs using a newspaper-printing like roll-to-roll process," said Anil Duggal, manager of GEís Advanced Technology Program in Organic Electronics. "Now weíve shown that it is possible. Commercial applications in lighting require low manufacturing costs, and this demonstration is a major milestone on our way to developing low cost OLED lighting devices."

Greenpeace activists marched in front of the offices of Vatenfall in Hamburg, installing a dinosaur on top of a pile of coal to emphasize the point declared on their banners: "Stop dinosaur technology". The dinosaur of rusted steel towered 5 meters (16 feet) over a 3 ton pile of coal which was dumped, under cover of darkness, in front of the entry to Vatenfall employee parking.

The type of silicon used in photovoltaic panels is expensive, and as long as supply is constrained, the price of electricity produced by solar panels won't be as cheap as it could be. Solaria's solar panels produce about 90% of a conventional solar panel's power, while using half as much silicon by slicing the silicon into thin strips and using clear molded plastic to collects light from the entire panel and funnels it to the strips of silicon. Clever.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.